A few days ago I shared my thoughts about how I think a combined American and US Airways would look, and I’ve received several emails and comments from readers asking about whether it makes sense to buy up to Chairman’s Preferred status with US Airways in anticipation of this.
US Airways is the only airline out there I know that will sell you top tier status for a reasonable price. Here’s their chart for “buying up” to Preferred status:
So as you can see, you can outright purchase 100,000 PQMs for $3,999, or it’s a better deal if you have any qualifying activity to purchase up to 99,999 PQMs for $2,999.
With that in mind, does it make sense to buy Chairman’s Preferred status in hopes of this turning into Executive Platinum status with American, and getting eight of their systemwide upgrades?
I think the short answer is “probably not.”
The first thing to understand is how “buying up” to Preferred works. They’re not actually posting any PQMs to your account, but rather bumping up your status to what it would be with the number of PQMs you purchase. In other words, if you have 1,000 PQMs and spend the $2,999 for purchase the extra PQMs your status would be updated to Chairman’s Preferred, while your actual PQM balance wouldn’t change.
If you buy up between January and May it’s added to your PQM total from last year, while if you buy up between June and December it’s added to the current year’s balance. But the catch is that either way status is only valid for the remainder of the calendar year. So even if you bought up to Chairman’s Preferred in November, it would expire in February of the following year.
Therefore if you bought up to Chairman’s Preferred and a merger were to happen mid-year, chances are you wouldn’t get the eight systemwide upgrades, as they may very well only be issued to US Airways flyers the next calendar year. In that case it would make a lot more sense to buy up to Chairman’s Preferred early next year, if they’re still offering it then.
Anyway, it’s all just speculation on my part since I’m not sure when a merger will happen, or for that matter if it will happen at all. But at this point the upside seems limited, so it’s not something I’d personally jump on.